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The problem with HR is that it is too often "last on, first off". Not due to the fault of HR staff per se. However, the vast majority of founders (especially newcomers) are not HR employees.
In addition to being a sales, marketing, finance, or operational entrepreneur, founders likely subscribed to the outdated narrative that HR is some kind of "necessary evil", a cost center, and a talent backlog that just drags the company up towards compliance and procedures to suppress the "act fast and break things" creed.
Rapid growth often covers many problems for months or even years until things fester beyond the point of no return. HR is not the least bit of it. In my experience, this is the most common problem of this type.
As long as a company is growing rapidly to 150-200 employees, founders can often only "get away" with a recruiter and an HR coordinator or even a director, as long as there is a recent round of funding or other PR working hard to do this to achieve a pipeline of talent.
Then, at a tipping point, growth is no longer enough to hide the chaos of poor compliance, bad and expensive perks, long hours, and below-market pay. People begin to leave disappointed with the gap between words and deeds, the stated mission and vision, and the dysfunction of the founders involved in far too many small details. Morale is falling and talent pipelines are drying up.
Suddenly there is a need for a "grown up" (strategic) HR department in the room to clean the house, fill in the compliance and procedural gaps, unequal pay, and non-ideal (usually non-existent) D&I processes and develop better services , Hiring, learning and development, improving communication and productivity.
It's not an easy task and the expectations are sky high. There is never enough budget allocated (remember, the cost center is wrong), the planned time span is always too long, and the buy-in is incomplete at best. Inevitably, the vice president of HR or CHRO is called in to fix a major mess, is not onboarded (because this is one of the sore points he or she needs to fix to keep new hires), and is expected to be Works miracles in no time.
When founders decide to pull the trigger when hiring an HR leader, it is almost always because they are under a lot of pressure from their lean, overcrowded, and overly tactical HR team, board of directors, co-founders, and team leaders. And with the pressure often comes forced and suboptimal decision-making.
What is the usual profile of the setting? He or she usually comes from a larger company than Number 2 or Number 3 under the CHRO, a few years prior to performing tactical HR work like filing compliance papers and implementing systems
So it's no surprise that so many initial HR strategic settings don't work well. How can fast growing companies solve their HR puzzle and avoid all sorts of serious HR problems by building their HR team on time without being afraid of hiring a strategic HR leader?
The truth is, there is no simple and elegant way to "split the baby". However, there is an interim solution that will help create an effective bridge between tactical mastery of the HR department and a solid strategy to continue growing and scaling.
With this approach, an experienced consultant is hired as interim HR manager who will both take on the heavy lifting of getting the proverbial trains on time (benefits, payroll and other system implementations, plus talent acquisition, performance management and employee engagement) and also do the strategic work to improve the flow of communication, coach employees, create game books, guidelines and procedures, and provide training for personal and professional development.
Such a consultant can not only create a "clean house", but also train and empower the existing HR team to move up to a more strategic level in order to ultimately raise generalists to a director level and enable them to work on more strategic projects.
How can a founder find such unicorn talent, one might ask?
We live in the golden age of consultants and freelancers, and it seems like thousands are joining them every day. Last but not least, among these hordes of free agents are former HR managers of large and medium-sized companies who worked alone. There is no shortage of available talent.
Related Topics: Where To Find Real Experts When You Need Consultants For Your Business
And how can a founder ensure that the consultant is successful? After all, 4 out of 5 "digital transformations" fail miserably.
1) Find an experienced (and authentic) communicator and coach who will go out of their way to go in-depth with each employee to discover their story, current challenges, career paths and weaknesses at work.
80% of all problems in fast growing (and all other) companies have to do with poor and infrequent communication that is deaf and anything but caring.
Related Topics: Why Office Communication Is Valued And Often Ignored
2) Together with your consultant, create a detailed plan and timeline for your digital transformation before you hire him for a longer engagement. Take a close look at how you currently conduct internal communications, project management, performance reviews and feedback, employee retention initiatives (learning and development, rewards and recognition, total compensation including salary groups, and perks and perks) (and how you plan to work in the future), Company wiki and team playbooks that require standardization and automation, among other things, and create clear delegation and decision workflows as well as business continuity.
3) Empower your recruiter and team to lead your digital transformation, not your IT. Nothing against the IT man or the IT girl, but that's not the reason for the bigger vision.
4) In coordination with your advisor, over-communicate your vision, mission and values at every opportunity. Take a weekly zoom with the entire team and tell them about all the cool things your different departments are doing. Create a culture of recognition from colleagues and managers. Focus on building, maintaining, and smoothing relationships among your team members.
Related: 5 Easy Steps To Digitally Transform Your Business
5) Work with your recruiter to identify and develop the people who are "nodes" in your organization. These are usually the hardest-working, passionate, and dedicated people who really shape your culture. They've usually been around for a while and have built important parts of your business. Keep them close and give them more autonomy to make decisions. Enable them to hire more people for their team and to propose and implement better tools and decision-making processes.
The right HR manager can change your company
By taking this approach, not only will you save a lot of money and time by reducing risk, but you will also help ensure the success of a local human resource manager who has grown out of the company at the director level or otherwise created has a ramp for a senior HR manager of a larger company who focuses on strategic projects from the start.
If you ignore this approach and take the plunge with an expensive rental, you will likely regret it after wasting months and tens of thousands of dollars on a doomed scenario.
Choose wisely and look forward to your continued growth!